Getting a backlink can happen without any extra effort on your part. People can find their way onto your website and like what they see enough to link out from their websites of their own volition. However, there are at least 5.57 billion pages out there, so it’s not realistic to rely on the small chance that this happens if you want to build up your website’s authority within a reasonable amount of time.

Create a solid backlink acquisition strategy for your next SEO campaign with the help of these proven methods:

You can start by looking at the backlinks you already have for your website using tools such as Google Search Console for a basic overview or Ahrefs for more advanced options. Auditing your backlink profile can provide you a clear perspective on where your site currently stands with regards to authority.

You’ll be able to identify which sites you have connections with and possibly pursue for even more backlinks if they are highly trusted sources (although the law of diminishing returns does apply when it comes to building multiple links on the same domain).

A backlink can also identify any potentially bad or toxic backlinks you might have. It’s often overstated just how much damage backlinks from disreputable sites can do your SEO. Google has become very sophisticated at understanding that bad links are a natural part of any backlink portfolio, especially for larger more established sites.

If you think you have a backlink portfolio that is damaging your SEO (maybe through working with a cowboy SEO agency in the past) then it’s worth approaching a reputable SEO agency to establish what can be done. In rare cases, that agency may suggest either reaching out to those sites’ webmasters and requesting removal or sending Google a disavow list containing these links.

Once you’ve done a backlink audit, you will have a baseline to compare to when you initiate your backlink campaign.

Using tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush can let you peek into the entire backlink profile of all the other websites you are competing against. You can make a direct comparison of the health of your website’s backlink profile with theirs and identify what you need to improve on.

Gaining access to your competitors’ backlink profiles also provides a wealth of sources you can target for backlink acquisition. Make a list of high-authority websites they have links from that you believe would be relevant for your website. Review those links to get an idea of how your competitors managed to acquire them.

You can then use this list of high-authority, relevant websites for your outreach campaign, and you can employ similar methods that your competitors used to great success.

3. Write Guest Posts

A tried and tested tactic for getting quality backlinks is creating content for another website and inserting a link to your own website. Plenty of online publications and websites welcome guest contributions to grow their content.

You can find such sites by Googling the industry you’re in plus the search term “write for us” or “contribute”. For example, you can Google food blog “write for us” to come up with a list of food websites that accept guest posts. If you’ve done backlink analysis on your competitors, you can also consult the list of high-authority websites you made and reach out to them.

Take the time to study the websites you want to write guest posts for. You want to be able to pitch fresh takes or a more up-to-date version of a post they already have. You don’t want to just regurgitate old ideas or propose content that their audience won’t care for.

4. Look for Brand Mentions

Even when your brand gets mentioned in publications (e.g. for a product you just launched or an event you hosted), there could be times when you still won’t get a backlink to your website. The publicity is certainly good in and of itself, but it’s a missed opportunity for your site to get the SEO value from a backlink as well as the referral traffic that comes with it.

Use Google Alerts to notify you whenever your brand is mentioned online. Reach out to the webmaster or editor in charge of the post with your brand name in it, then ask if they can include a link to your website.

Websites with broken links are prime targets for getting backlinks. Webmasters are often grateful when you contact them to point out that their pages have links that only lead to 404 errors.

What you can do is to offer a replacement link that goes to your website instead. Just make sure the content you’re offering makes sense as a replacement for the broken link. If you don’t have the relevant content to suggest, create it before you reach out so you have it ready.

Some of the best prospective websites you should check are those for public institutions, schools, and trade organisations. These websites often have lists of resources they link out to, and they are typically high-authority domains.

You can use free tools such as Dead Link Checker or Ahrefs’ free broken link checker to start your search for broken links on other websites. Plug in the URL of the broken link onto the Wayback Machine to see an archived version before it turned into a 404 page so you have an idea of what type of content you can replace it with.

Every method outlined in this article requires a great deal of effort to execute successfully. There are no shortcuts to getting quality backlinks, and cutting corners by paying for links will only result in penalties. You need to do the work of researching your industry, networking with influencers and institutions, and creating good content to build powerful links.